Women’s basketball set to face nation’s leading scorer

Tara Jones and Tara Jones

The Falcons will face a top-ten scorer for the third time this season.

This time it is the nation’s leading scorer in Alexa Hayward and the 0-6 Saint Francis Red Flashes on Saturday, Dec. 13. Hayward enters the game averaging 27.7 points per game.

Previously, the 4-2 Falcons faced Iona’s Damika Martinez, who ranked eighth with 23.9 points, and UW-Milwaukee’s Ashley Green, who ranked ninth with 23.3 points.

This is something the Falcons are accustomed to at this point, senior Jasmine Matthews said Hayward is “nothing new.” Teammate Deborah Hoekstra agreed.

“This is like the third leading nation’s scorer I think we’ve faced,” Hoekstra said. “Whether a team is 0-6 or 6-0 we always have the same preparation for it and always have the same mind set attacking every single game. That doesn’t change.”

Though Saint Francis enters 0-6, Hayward is a dangerous liability for the Falcons.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if this kid, with the type of offensive system that Saint Francis runs, finishes the season leading the nation in scoring,” head coach Jennifer Roos said. “She’s going to put up half of her shots from behind the arc, she’s going to try to shoot as fast as she can down the floor. She’s an unbelievable scorer.”

The Red Flash are dangerous from behind the three-point line, primarily because of Hayward’s hot hand from behind the arc. She has gone 55-for-178 from the floor and no other SFU player has made more than 21 or attempted more than 71 field goals. Hayward has made 25 of the team’s 51 baskets from three-point land.

“I’ll be happy if we can contain her to anything below her average,” Roos said. “If this is a kid that goes for a career high of 50, then I think we’re going to be in trouble.”

Luckily, the Falcons have one thing the Red Flash does not: balanced scoring.

“I don’t want our team to have to rely on someone to score 20 or 25 points a game,” Roos said. “Everybody has the green light to shoot, and we have offensive plays designated for everyone. We just want to get the ball to whoever has got the hot hand

as well.”

That balance helps create confidence across the floor.

“I think we have been successful throughout the years because we have that philosophy of sharing the ball and having a lot of different kids on the floor who have the ability to score inside and out,” Roos said. “The better balance you have allows for more confidence for the kids out there.

Redshirt junior Erica Donovan leads the team with 13.7 points per game and 8.5 rebounds. Junior Miriam Justinger is next with 10.7 points and 5.3 rebounds while senior Hoekstra is not far behind with 9.8 points per game off the bench.

With six games under the team’s belt, the team is beginning to understand the system and gel, Hoekstra said, and that is translating to success on the floor.

“We’re finally learning how to gel and play together and I think that’s the reason why shots are starting to fall,” she said.

Though the players are still in the process of understanding one another’s tendencies, those pieces are starting to come together.

“We understand what the coaches want and we know what [Roos] wants with the play calls, if we want to change something defensively or change the lineup,” Matthews said. “We’re getting comfortable and really understanding roles and who gels together.”